Managing a team of remote employees can be an intimidating task. The lack of face-to-face interaction and physical presence can make it difficult to connect with your team, motivate them and keep track of what's happening.
Whilst remote work has given many people greater flexibility in location and hours, the downside is a lack of face-time, a lack of opportunities to learn by osmosis, and a reduction in the social benefits of being in a traditional office.
Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to make managing a remote team a smoother, more successful experience.
1. Establish Regular Team Stand-ups
Set up regular check-ins with your remote team to provide them with updates to gauge their progress. Try a daily stand-up meeting; a short (20 minutes max) meeting where you discuss any blockers for the day and make short meeting notes.
This will help to ensure that everyone is on the same page and that all tasks are being completed properly. Additionally, these daily check-ins provide an opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback. Use Craft's free meeting notes template to capture and share the most important points from your stand-ups.
2. Invest time in team building
It’s important for all teams - remote or not - to have a strong sense of identity and purpose. This is certainly more difficult to do when some or all of your team are not working together in the same physical space.
So you’ll need to put extra energy into conceiving interesting ways for your team to bond. Be aware, this is an ongoing piece of work and you’ll need to constantly come up with new initiatives to keep everyone engaged. Try carving out time from the working day to have lighter periods - casual chats, quizzes, online games - anything which allows people to talk and bond.
3. Invest in training
Make sure all remote team members are properly trained and have the necessary resources to do their job. Provide access to training and education materials to help grow their skills and keep them learning and engaged. The advice here is very much the same as for a physical team; it’s worth investing in people if you want to increase their abilities and retain them in your company.
4. Celebrate Successes
It’s important to recognize and celebrate successes to motivate your remote team. Acknowledging a job well done will help to boost morale and improve productivity. Again, it’s harder to do this when you’re not seeing each other in the flesh, but use your channels to ensure that praise is given where praise is due.
5. Schedule regular one-to-ones
As a remote manager, it’s even more important to give your team enough time to speak directly with you. If possible, arrange time to do this in person as much as you can, but when that's not possible, a video call, or even a phone call, with just the two of you, gives your team members the chance to air issues they may not want to share with the rest of the team.
6. Arrange physical meet-ups
Remote teams will benefit from meeting each other in person. With all the video calls and DMs in the world, there’s no better way to bond than meeting physically. So, organize opportunities to meet up and work together, either in a workspace or an office if you have one.
7. Use collaborative tools
Invest in collaborative tools such as Craft, Dropbox, Slack, and Zoom to help facilitate communication and collaboration. These tools will make it easier for team members to share documents, ideas, and feedback.
Remember that you’ll need to over-index on digital communication in a remote team because there are far fewer times when conversations will occur spontaneously - as they would in the physical office environment.
In conclusion, managing a remote team can be a challenge, but with remote work becoming so common, managers need to adjust their style to ensure remote teams stay happy. It requires investment in both time and resources, but when done correctly, it can increase productivity and morale.
Establishing a strong team culture, regular check-ins and stand-ups, celebration of successes, and investing in training and collaborative tools will ultimately help to make your remote team a success.